Friday, February 28, 2014

Eggs And Onions

So this afternoon I'm getting dinner started, and asked the kid to pass out some kitchen scraps to the chickens as she passed by.  After last weekend's chicken butt trimming I've been keeping a close eye on the fertility of the eggs I've been cracking for cooking--I'd been seeing anywhere from a 50% to a 25% fertility rate.  Today they were three for three, all fertile!  Great job, boys!

So she grabs the little dish with the eggshells and a few other odds and ends in it, and casually asks what I'm doing as she cruises out the back door.

"Getting ready to cut an onion." I tell her.

I get a grunt of acknowledgement in return.  I realize onions aren't all that exciting at the best of times, though.

"We who are about to cry, salute you!"  I call out as the screen door closes, thumping my chest with the handle of the knife.  She actually opens it again just to give me the classic teenage eyeroll and sigh "Really, mom?" before leaving again.

"Hey," I grumble.  "You try and come up with an onion joke on the spur of the moment."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spring Is Here...For Today, Anyway

The weather warmed and the wind died away for one day, so I freshened the dustbathing tub with lovely fresh dirt for the chickens.  Linc and CM jumped right in.  As they sifted the dirt and small rocks came to the top I'd grab them out and discard them.
Daphne joined them...
Rocket didn't so much climb into the tub as fall in.

Meanwhile, Fran the Frizzle was having her own brand of fun by accosting Weedcat, who was snoozing in a sunbeam, yanking on his cape and comb, stepping on his head and generally being an obnoxious old lady.

Back at the tub, Burger joins CM and Linc, who are apparently going for a World Record in dustbath camping.

Little known fact:  Your flockmates make great goodie/dirt sifters.  And double as a handy table!

CM is ousted from her spot by Burger.  Happiness is being covered in dirt, though.

CM avoids the Burger issue by jamming her head under Linc.  IF I CAN'T SEE YOU YOU CAN'T SEE ME.

Surprisingly, this seems to work.  Linc is puzzled, however.

...and once Burger leaves the Dustbath Twins have it to themselves again.

...until Weedcat decides that it's his turn.  When the Head Roo goes dustbathing, it's always SRO.

CM and Linc wisely decide that they are done after all.

And Weedcat gets down to some serious dirt throwing.

More big hens stuff in.  Good thing I bought the large size tub.

Zip demonstrates her dirt throwing technique.

...and she and Weeds have a little friendly dirt-throwing competition.

Crack climbs in and messes up the entire procedure by stuffing under Weedcat.

But gets it together pretty quick, becoming a beak rest for Zip..

Weedcat by now has attracted so many hens that he is ousted and decides to sunbathe next to the tub, where Bug does her best to annoy him by tugging on his cape & comb.
'Are you dead?  Are you dead?  Does this bug you?  Hey, you dead, big guy?'

Meanwhile there is a line forming at the tub.

Zip is falling into a dustbathing coma.

Bug continues in her quest to get a healthy fed-up rooster peck.

Eventually Bug bugs him enough and he rejoins the girls in the tub.

I just wonder why it is always the biggest girls who insist on all trying to cram into the tub with Weedcat at once.

The more crowded it is, the better they like it, silly chickens.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Clock Is Ticking...

The countdown to trimming the fluffbutts has begun.  In one week we remove everyone's dignity, and but good.  It's gonna be a total Shock and Awe campaign because I only want to have to do this once--I remember last year it took three shearings to accomplish our goal.

First His Majesty King Fluffy Pants, Weedcat...

 Yes, and YOU, Cam...

 And then the laying hens.
Because not much, ahh...business is actually getting done when Weeds and Cam get down to business--not all of the eggs I'm using when I cook are fertile.  So the Butt-Shearing Apocalypse commences next Saturday.

The old ladies who are out of lay and the banties escape this indignity--the banties since they don't grow enough buttfluff to interfere with fertility.  With everyone else we'll have to stock up on goodies to apologize with.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Here Is Your Handicap...

So Chick the 3 year old light Brahma hen is inside for the next few days.  She has a bad back from last year's rooboys, and Cam the youngster roo this year is very taken with her and won't leave her alone...and he reinjured her.  So she's getting some rooster-free time in the house during the day for some R & R.

Tonight she decided that my husband was the place to roost, just like her sister, Burger did recently.  Except Chick outweighs Burger by a pound or two, she's HEAVY.

Then she noticed that he was trying to play a game on the xBox, and had to get involved--Immediate Chicken Supervision was clearly required here.

The shoulder perch would no longer do.
Hmmm....better, but he still has one hand free and isn't completely unable to concentrate on the game yet because of the 10 pound chicken balanced on his wrist.

There!  Now, silly human, make yourself useful and pet me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Feathered Foremen, Or, Why My Husband Can't Get Anything Done

When my kid was younger, she LOVED sidewalk chalk.  Like LOVED it, and would color anything that stood still.  The 'Welcome' picture on the front page of my chicken site is thanks to her artwork, here she is just getting it started.

As she worked, Wild Child, our Head Hen at the time, came along to watch.  After all, this appeared to be a project, and all human projects require immediate chicken supervision.  It's in their union contract or something.  I'm actually surprised that she was the only one to come over, since roosters are well known to be nosey as old ladies and you can normally count on them to stick their beaks right into your business.

She stood there quite a while, soberly observing like she was southern California's pre-eminent art critic.

 Meanwhile, the chalk was spreading...

...and I think Wild Child realized that hey, SHE was a dark object that might look good with streaks of green, purple and pink...and wisely beat feet outta there before the kid noticed her.

She was a smart old bird and knew when to quit while she was ahead.

The chickens also supervised the rototilling of the back yard years ago.  We figured they'd naturally stay out of the way, since the rototiller was a noisy, scary goddamned thing, and bright red to boot.

Well, pretty quick Bear figured out the the Big Red Thing was SCRATCHING AND DIGGING UP WORMS, and anything that was doing that, was A-OK in her book.  She dutifully got right on my husband's heels to have first dibs on any yummy bugs he dredged up.

Hell, after a while the Big Red AutoChicken became their best buddy.

And after that, I had to put down the camera as they became outright enthusiastic when they figured out that when he tilted the front end up to get the tines to dig in they could SEE Digging Ground Zero, and they wanted to get in front of AutoChicken and stick their heads into the tines.
No amount of shooing would dissuade them, I had to get a broom and keep waving it in front of AutoChicken to keep anyone from getting mulched.

Once my husband was helping me out and cutting a hole in a piece of wood for a project I had underway. Suddenly I heard him complaining that Geraldine the tortoise was underfoot, which is what Geraldine did anytime you were out trying to do anything but pay attention to her.

An evil thought occurred.
"Hey,"  I told my three year old daughter, "Go see if dad needs any help."
So she did, gently laying her hand on his arm in sympathy to his Tortoise Situation.
"Dad, do you need any help?"

"No," he sighs, "I'm OK."  While shooting me a 'thanks a lot' look.  Meanwhile, Geraldine isn't going anywhere in any big damned hurry.

I can't stop laughing, because I ain't done with him yet.

"Wait," I tell him.  "Something's missing.  You need more help!"
From the back of the yard, out of sight, comes a loud burst of excited cackling and the thud of 42 sets of chicken feet.
*cue a chicken stampede as they all come tearing over, flapping to go faster*

They just keep pouring in from all over the yard, looking ashamed not to have been involved right from the get-go, like they've commited an unforgivable social gaff by not providing Immediate Chicken Supervision before now.  At this point he's leaning his head against the board and looking beaten.  Geraldine is helpfully standing on his foot, just in case he really thought he was going to get anything done without all this nonsense.

I'm laughing so hard I can hardly stand up.
Finally I take pity on him and call the kid back indoors, relocate the tortoise to the back of the yard and scatter some chicken goodies away from the work site.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Is That A Bird On Your Head, Or...?

Speaking of having a bird on your head, crows do it, too.  This is Nadine the crow years ago as a fledgling, getting all excited at feeding time.  Note her oversized blue eyes (they get darker with age), scruffy baby feathers and gape flanges.

He could walk all around with a crow on his head.  

But not for long, because FOOD.  Finally she'd notice the food being prepared and get all excited and start dancing around, flapping, gaping and yelling.  Yelling at the food dish, I might add.

When you feed baby crows, the excitment and noise is amazing.  They have a LOUD call, they flap, they gape.  The technique to feeding is to mimic the parents and get a glop of food on your finger and just ram it right down their gaping maw--if you just nicely place the food in their mouth they sit there, beak open, and allow the food to fall back out...and then give you a disappointed look.  Enthusiasm is key with crows, ya gotta participate, man.

Like this (this is not us, just shows a great example of baby crow feeding):

Hence, Nadine attempting to swallow a finger while making those excited, garble-y 'baby crow swallowing' noises, loudly, which only made us laugh.
As far as Nadine was concerned this kind of ridiculous behavior was absolutely necessary, she loved it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Ice Death Spear Crop...

...is coming along famously, can't wait to see where this is going.

Especially this one, lurking ominously outside our bathroom window.
I half-expect it to shiv us in our sleep one night and steal the stereo.

The ones along the garage are also doing their part to threaten everyone's well-being.
The kid has been repeatedly warned to stay out from under and away from the things, and we've been keeping the areas we have to walk under cleared.  All the houses in our neighborhood look like this on their north faces, and since we are in a cycle of warmer days/subfreezing nights/more rain/snow I doubt they'll be gone anytime soon.